August 25, 2010

Saudi Devil Does Meetballs from Sri Lankan Slaves Body (And Why Anthony Bourdain is a Tool of Oppression)

anthony_bourdain_arab_headress.JPGI'm a big fan of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. I mean, any guy who will not only eat cuddly critters, but make fun of those cringing at it is alright in my book.

But for fans, did any of you have problems watching his puff piece on Saudi Arabia? I mean, I thought it was the ballsy move to take the show the place on Earth he least wanted to go.

But when Bourdain got there, instead of asking any of the hard questions he propagandized us with the bullshit "maybe we're not so different after all" narrative.

Not so different? Really?

I had to work continuously since I had to do the chores of all the occupants. And when I wanted to take rest due to tiredness, they inserted the nail in my body as a punishment, Arab News quoted Ariyawathie. I had to work from dawn to dusk. I hardly slept. They beat me and threatened to kill me and hide my body. They were really devils with no mercy at all."
One might be tempted to call this a one-offer, an anecdote of evil that could happen in any country. Except in Saudi Arabia this kind of thing happens all the time. Maybe not this extreme, but treating domestics as slaves, abusing, sexually assaulting, and sometimes even torturing them are par for the course in the Kingdom.

I guess the question I have for Bourdain and the "why can't we all just get along crowd" is this: What is the relevance of showing the mundane details of Saudi life? How does that inform us on how free they are or how supportive they are of evil?

The answer to both questions is that family and personal life tell us almost nothing about a society nor about its political organization.

A travel writer who went to Nazi Germany in its early years showing us only the pickled pork's feet, schnitzel, and hefferveisen -- while ignoring the ghettos and fascist government -- shows us only the happy face of evil.

As I've often said, I hear Adolph and Eva were great party guests (okay, stole that one from Red Dwarf). So what?

It is true sign of stupidity when people make moral judgments about a person or society based on how hospitable or nice they are on the personal level. Evil people are just as likely to be nice as good people (eg, Adolph Eichmann).

And sometimes great men have personal lives that are total disasters (eg, Oscar Schindler).

Hannah Arendt noted that the most evil people in the Nazi regime were also the most unextraordinary. They could easily pass for an inconspicuous neighbor. Hence, the banality of evil.

Are there nice people in Saudi Arabia? Of course. Hell, all of them might be nice.

But this tells us absolutely nothing about the oppressive society that they live in, nor does it inform the moral debate about a political system of monarchy and a legal theocracy.

I was initially hopeful that Bourdain would do the right thing and in addition to the normal food and culture fare explore the darker side of the Kingdom of the Saud family. Instead, he gave us warmed over anti-cold war sentiment right out of the 1980s. An updated version of Sting's if the Russians love their children, too ripe for the war on terror.

Thanks to Doda.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 02:25 PM | Comments |